In the opinion of 370 former federal prosecutors, the only reason the president of United States has not been indicted for obstruction of justice is because he is the president of the United States. A statement to that effect, co-signed by many former Justice Department officials, was published Monday at Medium. Specifically, they say that the DOJ’s Office of Special Counsel’s opinion that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime is inoculating President Trump in a way that no other American would enjoy. Based on the Muller Report, there is enough evidence to meet the standard that prosecutors use when deciding whether or not to bring charges.
“Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice,” the former federal prosecutors wrote.
“We emphasize that these are not matters of close professional judgment,” they added. “Of course, there are potential defenses or arguments that could be raised in response to an indictment of the nature we describe here. . . . But, to look at these facts and say that a prosecutor could not probably sustain a conviction for obstruction of justice — the standard set out in Principles of Federal Prosecution — runs counter to logic and our experience.”
The list of co-signers is growing quickly. When I first looked at the letter, it only had 350 signatories. Of course, this is a large and politically divided country and there are a lot of people who have worked at the Justice Department. It wouldn’t be hard to find a big pool of left-leaning folks to sign on to a letter like this, but there are plenty of Republicans who have added their names, too.
Among the high-profile signers are Bill Weld, a former U.S. attorney and Justice Department official in the Reagan administration who is running against Trump as a Republican; Donald Ayer, a former deputy attorney general in the George H.W. Bush Administration; John S. Martin, a former U.S. attorney and federal judge appointed to his posts by two Republican presidents; Paul Rosenzweig, who served as senior counsel to independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr; and Jeffrey Harris, who worked as the principal assistant to Rudolph W. Giuliani when he was at the Justice Department in the Reagan administration.
It’s useful to have people step forward and tell the truth, and it’s encouraging to see some Republicans take a stand against their own president. I think this is their key point:
“All of this conduct — trying to control and impede the investigation against the President by leveraging his authority over others — is similar to conduct we have seen charged against other public officials and people in powerful positions,” the former federal prosecutors wrote in their letter.
They wrote that prosecuting such cases was “critical because unchecked obstruction — which allows intentional interference with criminal investigations to go unpunished — puts our whole system of justice at risk.”
As Mueller tried to explain in his report, it’s Nancy Pelosi’s job to do something about this.
If Pelosi stands in the way, she’ll be putting “our whole system of justice at risk.” At least, that’s what these 370 former prosecutors are saying.